The Future of Collaborative Play Based Learning: What are Maker Spaces?
Have you heard of an emerging trend called 'maker spaces?' They are the latest way to support collaborative play based learning in places of education, such as schools, museums and libraries. Their rise to popularity is not just a coincidence, maker spaces can't help but inspire young minds to learn creatively.
What is a Maker Space?
In simple terms, a maker space is a place where people gather to share materials in order to work on a creative project together. Maker spaces can be as complex as large labs full of top notch technology. On the flip side, they can be as basic as a craft cart with a few materials prepared for play.
How do Maker Spaces Benefit Children?
Maker spaces are often associated with STEAM projects. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. Many educators hail STEAM-based learning as a good approach to developing a child's inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. Maker spaces are therefore a great hub for developing these skills in children. One of the most valuable benefits of having a maker space is that it naturally encourages team work and collaboration.
Due to the fact that maker spaces are paired with unstructured time and materials, it provides children with a sense of creative freedom. Too often children are told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Giving children time to explore and make mistakes is so important for their development of coping skills. Not being able to create something immediately can be frustrating. Working with other children and with a range of materials fosters a flexible environment, where children are more likely to persevere with their creations.
Examples of Maker Spaces:
Mini Maker Space Cart for Kids (Left Brain Craft Brain)
As we mentioned, maker spaces do not have to be big and fancy. This very inviting cart has the potential to provide hours of independent creating for children. So many different materials to explore!
Maker Spaces in the Classroom (Talkin Piñata Teaching)
Schools are quickly picking up on just how beneficial maker spaces can be for student development. We love how Talkin Piñata Teaching combines some instructional STEAM worksheets, with a huge selection of loose part materials for students to explore.
Giant Light Display (Stepping Stones Museum, CT)
How exciting is this light display?! Children can work together or individually, to create brightly colored light art. The lights are easy to pull out and put back in, making this maker space accessible to a large age range.
Building Block Maker Space Wall (Creative QT)
Although we are perhaps a little biased, this is definitely our favorite maker space! Using 16 of our grey Peel 'n Stick Baseplates, this building block wall is a sure fire hit with young creators. Building on a vertical surface in itself makes children more motivated to explore their ideas. We love how there is so much space for children to use, along with the fact that the wall is compatible with LEGO, DUPLO and MEGA BLOKS. This means that children can use different sized blocks, something that encourages younger and older creators to work side by side.
Large scale LEGO compatible walls like this are perfect for schools, libraries and museums. There is no need to make your maker space wall this big, a miniature version can be just as effective. Building blocks can be combined in many different ways and appeal to a wide age range. You can add prompt sheets or challenge instructions to your wall, or simply let the creators build with their imagination.
We hope you feel a little more informed about the world of maker spaces after reading this post. If you get chance, we highly recommend visiting a maker space of any kind. Just watch how inspired your children will be to create with imagination, confidence and perseverance!
Creative QT designs quality + innovative toys that declutter homes and inspire creative play. Founded by parents of five, Adam and Dana Sue Hinkle, Creative QT’s vision is to empower parents and encourage a culture of families that Make Time Together. All products are designed to enrich families’ lives through active, creative play and play based learning. Creative QT products are laboratory tested for compliance with CPSC requirements and are free of lead, cadmium and phthalates so you can play with confidence. So, go ahead … today is the day: be your kid’s hero.
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